Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, January 5th, 2013

Here lies a poor woman who was always tired,
For she lived in a place where help wasn’t hired.


South North
East-West ♠ Q 9 7 6 3
 10 6 2
 K 5 2
♣ Q 2
West East
♠ 5 4
 K 9 7 4
 J 10 9 4
♣ 10 8 3
♠ A
 A Q
 8 7 6 3
♣ J 9 7 6 5 4
♠ K J 10 8 2
 J 8 5 3
 A Q
♣ A K
South West North East
1♠ Pass 2♠ Pass
4♠ All pass    


The opponents do not always find the best possible lead against your games, and you have to take advantage of the opportunities they give.

In today’s deal North had a difficult decision – some would raise to three spades, some might even have bounced all the way to game. But he opted for the low road today, and East wisely did not introduce a terrible suit over two spades, letting South declare four spades, giving West a blind lead.

When West led the diamond jack from the top of his sequence declarer seemed to have four inescapable losers. However, he saw a solution — he needed one defender to have a singleton spade ace and for the hearts to be blocked, with either East or West having a singleton honor or doubleton double-honor. Correctly, he took the first trick with the diamond ace, then cashed the club ace and king, before making the key play of overtaking the diamond queen with the king and ruffing a diamond. Now he exited with a trump.

East won his ace and could do no better than play the heart ace followed by the queen. This left West with no winning answer and when he allowed the queen to hold, East was forced to lead a minor suit card next. Declarer ruffed in hand with the spade eight and threw the heart 10 from dummy. He drew West’s last trump with the king and could claim his contract.

The most sensible way to play a sequence where your partner doubles and then bids his LHO's suit is for the call to be natural. Thus your partner is showing extras and long hearts. East may well have just a four-card suit to one honor with your partner having six. But you don't have to commit yourself; raise to three hearts just in case you and your partner are not on the same wavelength.


♠ Q 9 7 6 3
 10 6 2
 K 5 2
♣ Q 2
South West North East
1♣ Dbl. 1
1♠ 2♣ 2 Pass

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Patrick CheuJanuary 19th, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Hi Bobby, like you say,declarer needed one defender to have singleton ace of trumps and hearts blockage to make four spades.If East has Ace and small trump,and switches to Ace and Queen of hearts, should West overtake with the King and play a third heart,or is that just a guess,and maybe too risky if East has AQx in hearts?Best Regards-Patrick.

bobbywolffJanuary 19th, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Hi Patrick,

Great question and to the main issue.

The special law of BCS applies to the unqualified answer. The bridge common sense answer is, certainly yes, since if partner had the AQx he should lead his little one second since if he led the queen instead, he is “begging” you to overtake, with no reason to not. But, if instead he leads the queen (when playing with a lesser experienced player East might lead the queen first, deciding to play partner for the king) you need to overtake and give him his ruff with his hypothetical small trump.

You have hit upon and squarely connected to what separates the good and the best players. The best players do not play frivolous nor cards closest to their thumbs without realizing what and why, by so doing, how their partner may be put in a conflicting situation which needs to be properly analyzed.

Here, your question is a perfect example of how it can happen and so BCS is applied.

David WarheitJanuary 20th, 2013 at 1:28 am

Patrick (and Bobby): It doesn’t matter whether or not west overtakes the queen of hearts in your question (provided, of course, if he does, that he gives east a heart ruff). If he doesn’t, east just exits with his little trump and in the fullness of time west will make his heart king.

bobbywolffJanuary 20th, 2013 at 6:20 am

Hi David,

If, West does not overtake East’s forced queen of hearts play, since he did not have a small one, East is now forced to give a ruff and a sluff since he had no little trump to play, which declarer will ruff high in hand and discard the losing heart from dummy.

I hope everyone will agree that if East had started with AQx in hearts he would not lead the queen, but rather the small one and, get a small heart back to his queen for the setting trick.

Nenad ČaklovićJanuary 24th, 2013 at 8:48 am

I disagree.

As David points out, heart ruff will happen only if East has a trump. In this case he has safe exit card anyway. So, no problem.

West should overtake heart queen only if he has KJ.